Dartford remain top of the National South after victory last weekend and a win at home to Dorking Wanderers on Saturday will keep them at the summit.
Jack Barham, the two-goal hero against Havant and Waterlooville will face his former club where he scored seven times in his six-month spell. The striker opened his Dartford goalscoring account with a well taken penalty and a glancing header to earn his side a 2-1 win over the Hawks, one of the title favourites.
Speaking to www.kentonline.co.uk after the match Barham feels the Darts are the ‘perfect club’ for him. The 24-year-old who has worked with manager Steve King at Welling United was pleased to get his first goals for Dartford, he said: “I’m delighted to get off the mark and now I can focus on kicking on with my season and picking up results as well”, he added: “I’m really enjoying it. I’m getting loads of chances, the set-up is fantastic and perfect for me. I’ve got a great team behind me”.
Unbeaten in the National South with four wins from five, manager King is impressed with the attitude of the squad and knows they are capable of better performances, he told DFC TV: “When I looked at the fixtures the first six were like a baptism of fire. We’re not playing fantastic but we’re playing good in spells. To get 13 out of 15 points against the teams we’ve played is a very good start considering we could have had the hangover from the playoff final defeat and feel sorry for ourselves, but we have not”. Barham echoes his manager’s comments adding: “I know we’re going to be up there challenging for the title. The aim is to get promotion again”.
Standing in Dartford’s way on Saturday will be Dorking Wanderers who impressed in their first campaign in the National South last season. Finishing seventh to reach the playoffs, the Wanderers also made the last 16 of the F.A Trophy upsetting Stockport County on the way. This season began with the Surrey side making a perfect start in their first three games taking maximum points and scoring ten goals. An opening day 3-0 win at Eastbourne Borough was followed up with a 3-1 home victory over Slough Town and a comprehensive 4-0 triumph away at Braintree Town.
Last weekend, Marc White’s side lost to Dartford’s closest competitors Hungerford Town. The 2-0 defeat leaves Dorking Wanderers where they finished last season, they and are now four points behind the Darts with a game in hand. Over the summer, White introduced some experience to the squad with the arrival of former Gillingham midfielder Barry Fuller as well as Wes Fogden, Alfie Rutherford, Ed Harris who were all part of the Havant and Waterlooville squad who pipped Dartford to the National South title in 2018 to claim back to back promotions.
Former players: Jack Barham and Jason Prior face their previous clubs
Returning to Princes Park eleven years to the day since a hat-trick against the Darts, will be former Dartford striker Jason Prior. Whilst he managed just two goals in 24 appearances for Dartford in both his spells with the club, he has caused more problems as an opponent. Before joining the Darts, he netted a hat-trick for Bognor Regis Town at Princes Park, he scored the last-minute title clinching goal for Havant and Waterlooville and a penalty for the Wanderers last season also at Princes Park. He has started this season with three league goals in four games.
If the last two meetings are anything to go by then a feast of goals await. The two sides shared 12 goals in this fixture last term with the away side winning on both occasions. Dorking Wanderers won 4-3 in September and the Darts won the reverse match 3-2 in January this year. With Tony Burman in temporary charge after the departure of Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle four days before kick-off, the Darts were narrowly beaten at Princes Park. Dorking’s Niall McManus scored from long range before Ben Greenhalgh scored twice. The game was level once more when Prior netted from the spot in first half stoppage time. Charlie Sheringham put the Darts in front, but two late goals from Giuseppe Sole and James McShane either side of Lee Noble’s red card sealed the win for the visitors.
The meeting in January was just as dramatic with Darren McQueen scoring a last-minute winner. Dartford threw away a two-goal lead created by McQueen’s penalty and Elliot Romain’s strike. Dorking Wanderers pegged Dartford back when Jimmy Muitt then Luke Moore scored. McQueen popped up with the decisive goal at the end to claim three points for the Darts.
Head to Head
Dartford wins: 1 / Dorking Wanderers wins: 1 / Draws: 4
Current League Form
|Havant &Waterloovile||H||2-1||Hungerford Town||A||0-2|
|Chippenham Town||A||2-1||Braintree Town||A||4-0|
|Bath City||H||1-0||Slough Town||H||3-1|
|Hampton & Richmond||A||0-0||Eastbourne Borough||A||3-0|
Dartford are unbeaten in nine National South matches stretching back to 22 February (W7, D2).
The Darts have made their best start to a league campaign since winning the Isthmian Premier League in 2009/2010, when they also won four and drew one of their opening five fixtures.
Josh Hill is one game away from making his 50th Dartford appearance (45 starts and 4 substitute appearances)
On This Day
Jason Prior scored a Princes Park hat-trick for Bognor Regis Town in an entertaining 3-3 draw. The Darts went on to win the Isthmian Premier League, whist Bognor Regis Town were relegated, making Prior’s performance more remarkable. Danny Harris and Billy Burgess scored for Dartford that day with Harris grabbing a brace. On this day Dartford have only lost once at home and that was in 1936 against Margate in the Southern League Midweek Section. In total they have won 6, drew 2 and lost 1 at home on 7 November, the most recent victory was back in 1987 against Redditch United, the Southern Premier League fixture ending 3-2. In 1981, the Darts beat Frickley Athletic 1-0 in the Alliance League and in 1964 they triumphed over Cheltenham Town 2-0, also in the Southern Premier League. Other results at home on this day include a 0-0 friendly draw with Fifth Northern Fusiliers (1903), a 3-0 Southern League Division Two win over Uxbridge (1896) and a 7-1 victory in a friendly against Thorburn Rovers (1891).